In Support Of The 1934 Drawing Being By Pablo Picasso, by Melvin Becraft
My study of Picasso’s Unknown Masterpiece, a 1934 ink drawing titled by Mark Harris, has resulted in 56 pages of addendum to the 1987 edition of my book, Picasso’s Guernica – Images within Images.
In 1981 I began finding hidden images in Picasso’s Guernica which led to the writing of my book. Ten years later Harris began finding hidden images in the 1934 drawing and in 1993 wrote an essay on the work which he sent to me in November 93. His essay noted similarities between the 1934 drawing and several of Picasso’s other works including Guernica of 1937 and The Three Dancers of 1925.
From 1993 to present we have remained in close contact. During this time Harris found the appearance of a Hitler caricature in the 1934 work. Both Guernica and Picasso’s Unknown Masterpiece have dark forms near dead center and in each those dark forms appear to center on Hitler’s moustache. In 1993, Harris discovered a baby’s milk bottle in Picasso’s Unknown Masterpiece. Shortly thereafter in The Three Dancers I discovered a related wine bottle overlaid in part by a silhouetted woman’s breast.. These bottles are in the same approximate location in each work.
In his original essay Harris had noted the great similarity between Picasso’s Unknown Masterpiece, The Three Dancers and Guernica and finding a number of similar hidden forms showed this to be true and proves that the 1934 drawing is by Picasso.
Picasso’s Initiation, The Studio with Plaster Head of 1925
This Picassian transport of ideas from work to work led to insights into other works such as the 1925 Studio with Plaster Head which is a true landmark in Picasso’s life.
This work shows a sideways seen hidden caricatured image of a hooded Picasso being born again but not through the Catholic canon of faith, but rather through individual illumination, that is, through gnosis.
It is noted that this caricature is androgynous (often in mysticism this is a characteristic of a god), and the plaster head on the pedestal is also androgynous. The female portion of both heads is the light blue part containing a completely dark triangular eye.
Picasso made some very interesting wall designs in both The Three Dancers and The Studio with Plaster Head, both of 1925. They strongly evoke the Fleur de Lis “best known as an emblem of the French monarchy” (pp. 187-8, Symbols, Signs and Their Meaning, Arthur Whittick, c l960).
Picasso in 1925 announced his initiation and apotheosis in The Studio with Plaster Head (see my p. 149 for the hidden initiation image). Therefore the wall designs would appear to link him to the society into which he was initiated. On p. 155 of Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln one finds illustrated the Plantard family crest which has the Fleur de Lis as the central emblem. Their book pointed to Pierre Plantard as a possible secretary general (p. 177) of the Prieure de Sion society, perhaps even grand master (p. 188) sometime subsequent to Jean Cocteau’s alleged term. In 1925 the grand master of the Prieure de Sion society is alleged to have been Jean Cocteau (p. 105), a close acquaintance of Picasso. (For details of the Prieure de Sion refer to Holy Blood, Holy Grail.)
Therefore the possibility exists that this 1925 initiation image depicts Picasso’s initiation into Prieure de Sion membership. It certainly depicts his initiation into a group with secrets evidenced by the book and diploma.
Interestingly, both The Three Dancers of 1925 and Picasso’s Unknown Masterpiece of 1934 appear to have as their basic design three figures bound together by a horizontal tie,and the central design on the Plantard crest has three vertical shapes bound by a horizontal tie. In The Three Dancers the horizontal tie is formed by the clasped hands at center. In Picasso’s Unknown Masterpiece the horizontal tie is formed by a concealed pantomime horse.
Most of our findings and insights came about directly from studying Picasso’s Unknown Masterpiece (the 1934 ink drawing). Without the knowledge we gleaned from the 1934 work we would have found little in the 1925 The Three Dancers, less in the 1925 Studio with Plaster Head and several other works covered. Picasso’s Unknown Masterpiece of 1934 has proven to be a bridge, a major bridge, between The Three Dancers of 1925 and Guernica of 1937. And the hidden images in the 1934 work rank it with The Three Dancers and with Guernica in thematic complexity.
I therefore agree with Harris, that though done in ink and gouache the 1934 work is a masterpiece.
It is hoped that scholars will realise and accept that most of the above mentioned masterworks do contain intentionally placed hidden images. The most important cryptic reference for me is the 1925 Studio with Plaster Head initiation image.
There is no doubt in my mind. Picasso’s Unknown Masterpiece celebrated in Harris’s 1993 essay The Discovery of Picasso’s Unknown Masterpiece and in his 1994 Visual Addendum to that essay is by the hand of Pablo Picasso.
© Melvin E. Becraft, 8 Dec. 1996.
Interpretations of the 1934 Drawing
Jung’s 1932 Article on Picasso
Overview of thoughts on Picasso drawing by Dr Ralph Goldstein
An Interpretation of the 1934 Drawing by Eberhard Fisch
In Support Of The 1934 Drawing Being By Pablo Picasso, by Melvin Becraft.